What are wisdom teeth?
Everyone has three molars on each side of the jaw. The last molar (or third molar) located at the very back of your mouth, are your wisdom teeth. While most of your adult teeth develop before adolescence, your wisdom teeth develop significantly later. While most adults have four wisdom teeth (two on each side), it is possible to have more, fewer, or none at all.
What are impacted wisdom teeth?
If your wisdom teeth are impacted or breaking through the gums, this means there is not enough room in your mouth for the wisdom tooth to emerge and develop naturally. This can cause crowding, cavities, gum infection, cysts and more that can damage to your teeth or surrounding structure and can cause considerable pain.
Why do wisdom teeth need to be removed?
Not all wisdom teeth need to be removed. If they grow in healthy, positioned correctly and without any other complications, then there’s no reason to have your wisdom teeth removed.
Today, it’s a rare occurrence that wisdom teeth will grow, in the right position or without complications. For everyone else, impacted wisdom teeth can cause crowding, cavities, gum infection, cysts, etc. — requiring removal to ensure no damage is done.
What can happen if my wisdom teeth are not removed?
Assuming your wisdom teeth are impacted, as most tend to be, can cause a variety of dental problems: crowding, cavities, gum infection, cysts, etc..
Will this require stitches? How will those be removed?
It may, though it’s not always necessary. If you do require stitches, they will likely dissolve on their own after a few weeks. On the rare occasions this does not happen, a dental visit will be required to have them removed.
Does getting wisdom teeth removed hurt? What kind of recovery period should I expect?
There are a variety of anesthetic options available when removing wisdom teeth that should significantly minimize any pain felt during the procedure itself.
Immediately following the procedure, you’ll want to pay close attention to the directions given to you by your doctor in order to manage your pain – this will likely include icing your jaw as well.
The most common cause of pain following the procedure is dry sockets, which may occur three-to-four days after wisdom teeth are removed. On rare occasions, there is some risk of nerve damage as well.
Patient recovery varies, depending on each patient, how many wisdom teeth were removed and the degree of impaction. For some, they may feel back to normal very quickly, while for others it may take longer.
What are dry sockets?
Dry sockets occur when the blood clot that forms in the tooth socket is dislodged, exposing the area to air, fluids and food. Symptoms of dry sockets include an unpleasant taste in your mouth and bad breath, as well as severe pain that radiates along your jaw.
If you believe you have dry sockets, contact your dentist as soon as possible. If left untreated, they can lead to a variety of complications.
When can I resume normal activities after getting my wisdom teeth removed (eating, teeth brushing, working, exercising, smoking, etc.)?
Immediately following your surgery, it’s recommended that you strictly follow your dentist’s advice and care instructions. Within 24 hours you should be able to resume normal oral activities such as brushing your teeth or gargling. If you smoke, it’s recommended that you wait even longer, as inhaling smoke may cause the blood clot in your socket to burst, potentially causing dry sockets.
Returning to work may depend a lot on the level of physical exertion required by your occupation, and the same applies to exercise, which can also aggravate the blood clot. Simpler, more sedentary work activities can otherwise be resumed as soon as you feel up to it, although it’s recommended that you avoid traveling for a few days.
If you have prolonged pain, bleeding, irritation, or don’t feel that the extraction site is healing properly call your dentist for a follow-up.